Around draft time you often hear prospects say during interviews, “I don’t care how high I go in the draft. I just want to land with the right team.” There are a few superstar talents in the NBA (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, etc.) who would become superstars no matter what team they were drafted by; however, for the overwhelming majority of NBA players their circumstances are incredibly important in determining their immediate success in the league.
It’s all about the right fit. Fit is a complicated concept but in its simplest form it can be broken down into three aspects: Environment, opportunity and playing/ coaching style. Fit is more detrimental to some players than others based on talent levels and skill sets.
This series of articles will look at the best team fits for the NBArp top ranked prospects. Rather than judging a prospect’s best fit based on all 30 NBA teams, the consideration will be based on the range in which a player is selected across the various mock drafts in the compiled list previously posted and nearby teams. Because fit varies in importance it will be graded 1-5 for each player (1 being the least important and 5 the most).
Also note that the best team fits are based off of current rosters and coaches. Obviously a lot will change between now and the beginning of the NBA season that may affect the environment, opportunity, and playing/ coaching style a player is drafted into. But based on what we know now here are the 2012 draft class’s best fits.
|Importance of Fit: 3/5||Mock Draft Range: #3 (all)||Best Fits: Wizards, Cavaliers|
|Unless the Cavaliers are able to trade their #4 pick with the Bobcats for the #2, it appears that Brad Beal’s likely to be chosen by the Wizards. After their trade with the New Orleans sending Rashard Lewis to the Hornets for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, the Wizards’ only glaring hole is at the shooting guard position.
The thing I love about Beal is that he does many things well and impacts the game on offense, defense, rebounding, and with intangibles. Washington would actually be a good situation for Beal to step into because he would be surrounded by respectable players which will allow him to contribute in any way he can without having too many pressures to come in and do it all right away. However, there won’t be anyone holding him back from becoming a focal point of the team either.
The Cavaliers are a great fit for all of the elite wing players in this year’s draft because that is undoubtedly the team’s most significant need and playing alongside Kyrie Irving would be a good position for most prospects. The important thing for Beal is that he lands with a team that will allow him to grow at his own pace. He will be a very, very good player in the league but he needs to develop at his own speed.
|Importance of Fit: 2/5||Mock Draft Range: #4-5||Best Fits: Kings, Cavaliers|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wants to win and that’s all he believes in. Unfortunately, the team that he is selected by will be years away from winning. It will likely be frustrating for MKG to be in a situation where he can’t will his team to a win for the first time in his career, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to that. The best situation for MKG would be if he were drafted by a team that will at least compete and consistently improve.
The Kings get a slight edge over the Cavaliers for MKG’s best fit. The Kings are going through a turbulent time with the possibility of relocation and the culture/ environment of the organization isn’t where it needs to be but when you look at their roster they should be much better than they performed. They have a number of players that received time at small forward (Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, Terrence Williams, Travis Outlaw, and Francisco Garcia) but when you go down the list MKG seems to be the best player to fit what the team needs; especially with Evans likely on his way out. The Kings have plenty of offensive weapons and players that need the ball. With the Kings all of MKG’s strengths would be magnified and his weaknesses offensively would be overlooked.
The Cavaliers would also be a great fit for Kidd-Gilchrist because he could be a major improvement on the wings and he’d be reunited with his former high school teammate at St. Patrick, Kyrie Irving. However, the Cavs have an athletic, defensive minded swingman that they are already interested in retaining with restricted free agent Alonzo Gee. Gee and MKG have overlapping skill sets and might not be the best pairing, though MKG looks to be the much better pro player.
Overall, regardless of where MKG ends up you know every night he will compete and give his all for his team. For those reasons the importance of what team he ends up with is not incredibly important to his career development. However, to maximize his potential the Kings or the Cavs seems to be the best fits.
|Importance of Fit: 5/5||Mock Draft Range: #6-7||Best Fits: Trail Blazers, Warriors|
|Andre Drummond is the biggest enigma in the draft. If I were a lottery team executive I would almost hope Drummond was off the board by the time my pick came up because once you’re on the clock there would be an immensely difficult decision of whether to take such an amazing prospect or opt for a much safer pick. The importance of Drummond landing with the right organization is likely the most important of any top ranked player in the draft.
With that being said, the Portland Trail Blazers look to be the best destination for Drummond. In the recent podcast between Chad Ford and high school recruiting guru David Telep, they outline the import role a veteran mentor will play in teaching Drummond what he needs to do to become a great player in the NBA and a great professional. I believe that Kurt Thomas, if he returns to the Trail Blazers rather than retiring, could fill that void perfectly. The team looks to be in slight rebuild mode which would give them the time to allow Drummond to develop correctly without rushing him. The potential of a long-term frontline of LaMarcus Aldridge and Drummond is definitely tantalizing.
The Golden State Warriors are in a similar position to the Trail Blazers in that they wouldn’t need Drummond to contribute much immediately. Together, David Lee and Andrew Bogut have over $84 million remaining on their long-term contracts so Drummond would obviously be a rotation player for them right now. But the expiration of Bogut’s contract after the 2013-14 season might coincide perfectly with when Drummond is ready to take on a bigger role. As he develops head coach Mark Jackson seems to be a right choice to keep Drummond’s spirits and confidence high while also enforcing discipline. Patience, instruction and mentorship will be crucial to Drummond’s pro development. The situation with the Warriors seems to provide all three.